Redistricting Richland

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Before they can even jump back into the superintendent search on Wednesday, Richland School Board members need to douse fires of concern Tuesday night. It's the issue of redistricting that became the headlines of the last Richland School Board meeting, and it hits at the core of every family, teacher and student involved.

"Whenever a school district is thinking about changing boundaries it can become an emotional issue," said Steve Aagaard, Richland School District. "People are going to get emotional," seconded Jeanette Johnson, a parent and PTO President of Carmichael Middle School.

Emotional, yes, but the Richland School board was not prepared for angry and mean at their last meeting when multiple parents banded together with the mantra - I don't want my kid going to the "worst school."

"All the schools in Richland are amazing," said Johnson. "In some ways I am sad anyone could throw mud about any one of the schools in Richland because they really don't deserve it." Johnson sees it all as the PTO President at Carmichael, but what she said takes her immediate attention is the reality Richland is facing.

"I have two boys at Carmichaelone kid on his first day had 42 kids in his English class," she said. "They had to open another section, so it kind of gives you an idea of our overcrowding."

The district calls it simple math: two schools, Carmichael and Enterprise are over capacity; one school, Chief Joe, is under.

"It makes sense the school board takes time to think about how we might make it more equitable," said Aagaard. Although it's received the most attention, sending Enterprise kids to Chief Joe is only one option the school is considering, he said.

"Changing boundaries is one possibility, keeping things the way they are is one possibility and possibly making students in new housing developments go to the least crowded school is another," he said. "So there are several options the board can consider."

If busing wasn't an issue, which financially Johnson said it is, she would like to see open enrollment considered too. "My concern isn't what school my kids are going to but classroom size. If I knew my kids could go to Chief Joe, I'd be like sign me up, because there's great staff everywhere."

It's all open for discussion Tuesday night, but unlike last board meeting, discussion about the 'best and worst' schools won't be tolerated.

"That will be toned down to give the board members a chance to discuss," said Aagaard.

The Richland School Board meeting starts at 7:00pm in the Administration Building.